Reuben's Home Inspection Blog


Bedrooms Don't Need Closets

Everyone knows that you need a closet in a bedroom to call it a bedroom, right?  While this is a universally accepted standard, good luck finding any type of authority that will back this up.

The funny thing about the ''requirement' to have a closet in a bedroom is that there isn't anything in the International Residential Code (IRC) that requires a closet in the bedroom.  There's also nothing in the Minnesota State Building Code that requires a closet, and there's nothing in the Minneapolis Maintenance Code.  So where does this thought come from?  I'm guessing HUD, FHA or VA require closets... but they're not authorities on the matter.

Minneapolis defines a bedroom as "A habitable room within a dwelling unit which is used, or intended to be used, primarily for the purpose of sleeping, but shall not include any kitchen or dining room." Minneapolis also requires the following for any sleeping room:
  • Seven foot ceiling height
  • Seventy square feet of floor area, not including any closet area
  • A source of natural light (8% of the floor area)
  • A source of  natural ventilation (4% of the floor area)
  • Can not be arranged such that access to a sleeping room can be had only be going through another sleeping room or a bathroom or toilet room.
  • Proper Egress - the requirements for this are long and complicated, and depend on when the building was built and when the last windows were installed. 
ArmoireThere are a few other requirements, but there's nothing about a closet.  

What exactly is a closet anyways?  The IRC defines a closet as "A small room or chamber used for storage."  A chamber is "a natural or artificial enclosed space or cavity".  This means that a 6" box with a door that's installed on the wall could be called a closet.  Ok, maybe that's silly.  How about an armoire or a wardrobe?  I've seen plenty of houses with only wardrobes in the bedrooms, and nobody had a problem calling them bedrooms.

The bottom line is that bedrooms do not need closets to be called bedrooms.  The next time you hear someone tell you that a bedroom needs a closet, ask for proof.

Oh, and don't let common sense get in the way (everyone still needs a place to store their stuff!).

Reuben Saltzman, Structure Tech Home Inspections - Email - Home Inspector Saint Paul

ps - Almost everything I blog about deals with topics that I have knowledge about, and I can almost always prove whatever I write.  For this topic, I'm writing about something that I don't have proof of. If anyone reading this blog can find evidence that I'm wrong, please post a comment.

Reuben Saltzman, Structure Tech Home Inspections


Comment balloon 6 commentsReuben Saltzman • July 07 2009 06:22AM


Reuben, I have heard the closet means it's a bedroom - not a bedroom. As you have stated that is not a requirement or criteria for a bedroom.

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) about 11 years ago

Reuben, you are so right----there are a lot of other things too that are required in bedrooms----like smoke alarm/detectors and AFCI protected circuits----but not closets----and yet that is one of the few things that "most people" insist is necessary to make it a bedroom----even more important than egress:)

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) about 11 years ago

James - yeah, who started that rumor anyway?

Charles - you're completely right about people thinking this is more important than egress.  That was going to be the topic of my post, but it got too long.  Next week.

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Delivering the Unbiased Truth. (Structure Tech Home Inspections) about 11 years ago

Devil's Advocate here...

But, you're speaking strictly from an inspector's point of view... is it mechanically fit for human habitation? And, although we are accustom to using a variety of "described" rooms on a property for purposes other than their original description... a bedroom for an office for example, or in the case of some older ramblers, a dining room as a bedroom or visa versa... if, as you sited, an entity such as HUD or VA make this a standing requirement as part of the qualification considerations of a mortgage being negotiated, then wouldn't it stand to reason that this is why you hear... "You need to have a closet and an egress window, finished flooring and 7' ceilings in a minimal 70 square foot room to be called a bedroom by today's standards as set forth by a demanding public who also deem it necessary. After all... we're told over and over... a value of a home is only worth what someone is willing to pay for it. And, if I don't believe it's worth what it's being estimated as because they're including another bedroom (which I would get taxed on), and those bedrooms have no 'public standard' storage... then I don't believe it should be the same value as an ultimately apples-to-apples property in every other manner with the exception of this missing storage.

I know that this thought may effect a small number of older, historic or eccentric homes, but their values again, are usually set on their uniqueness and their other attributes that you wouldn't necessarily find in a more standardized home built in the last 20 years... rich wide-panel trim work, coved ceilings, arched doorways, built-in glass buffets or library doors, stained glass, all-brick exteriors, or other more intricate architectural features.

- Just a consumer's point of view

Posted by Potential Homebuyer about 11 years ago

Potential Homebuyer - great points!  I think you're letting common sense get in the way here though :)


Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Delivering the Unbiased Truth. (Structure Tech Home Inspections) about 11 years ago


Heck I could of came here and got my info ; ) Good stuff and you are correct on your findings here.

Posted by Donald Hester, NCW Home Inspections, LLC (NCW Home Inspections, LLC) almost 9 years ago